Accountability for Heads of State


When Stanford University students recently asked former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about waterboarding and torture, her response was uncannily close to Richard Nixon’s infamous claim, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Young Turks radio host Cenk Uygur said, “This is a big deal, especially on something this grave and important. This is not a jaywalking ticket. There were 34 suspected or confirmed homicides of detainees, some clearly due to torture. It does not get any more serious than this.”

On Fox News, Karl Rove claims that a torture investigation of the Bush Administration would make the United States the “moral equivalent” of a Latin American dictatorship run by “colonels in mirrored sunglasses.” Catch the full segment courtesy of the Young Turks:

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So let’s get this straight: the Bush Administration can introduce torture as a matter of formal policy, over the objection of career soldiers and intelligence officers, lie about it, and then scapegoat a handful of grunts when it is uncovered, but those who demand accountability under the law for these misdeeds are “colonels in mirrored sunglasses”?! Only in the twisted world of Karl Rove.

Moreover, in Latin America the world of colonels in mirrored sunglasses is vanishing, and the new age is one in which leaders who torture are routinely subject to criminal investigation and prosecution. Ask Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. As part of a counterterrorism campaign against Maoist guerillas, he authorized the use of torture and the “disappearings” of hundreds, and a Peruvian court just passed judgment following a full trial. The sentence: twenty-five years in prison. Peru shows how a healthy and self-confident democracy deals with serious misconduct by a head of state.

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